Having a slightly negative viewpoint on how some public relations professionals handle their business, it sways me to believe that in the future, public relations professionals will not only try to control the consumer’s opinion, but they will also attempt to control the minds of employees internally. In other words, internal employees can be the best public relations for a company. If they speak well of the business they are working for, the company has its own PR foot soldiers. If employees speak ill of a company, they can often become a PR nightmare; take the example of Dell and the Consumerist.
In 2007, a former Dell kiosk manager listed 22 confessions to Consumerist regarding how Dell tries to make more money off of customers than truly necessary. Dell employees do this by extending warranties, adding technical support, or other excessive tactics. Not only did the former employee uncover these truths, but they also uncovered truths that were not speculated by the public. For instance, the President of Dell did not have the same email outlay as the rest of the company. This is not the issue; the issue is that if anyone in the public or lower level employees were to get his/her email, the email would need to be changed immediately.
Instances such as this one, and others regarding employees bad-mouthing their employers have become more and more prevalent with the introduction of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs. Understandably so, this is why in the future, internal communications will become a priority to public relations specialists. You cannot always make an employee like the company, but there are restrictive ways to handle these employees. Maybe there will be some sort of contractual agreement saying that any negative comments that are posted to social media are grounds for termination on the human resources end, but with regards to the public relations end, how can this be prevented?
The future of internal public relations seems to point in the direction of once again controlling public opinion. What is discussed by top management goes unmentioned to employees of a lower status and it is the public relations specialists’ job to spin any sort of negative action pushed by top management into language that the employees will view the company’s decision in a positive light. In larger organizations this can be viewed as nearly impossible, but on the other end of the spectrum, small organizations my have it worse. There is no manpower to stop a flood of public relations disasters and it could take down the entire company rather than just simply tarnishing their brand reputation.
The priority of internal communications by public relations professionals will increase as social media gives employees more ways to provide positive or negative reactions to company actions.